Hamilton hails under-pressure pole lap

Lewis Hamilton in his garage at the 2018 British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton has singled out his last-gasp pole lap at his home British Grand Prix as the toughest of his career.

The Briton, racing under number 44, pipped title rival and one-point championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 0.044 seconds after coming from 0.057 seconds down against the German after the pair’s first attempts in Q3.

Hamilton was shaking with emotion upon jumping out of his Mercedes cockpit before the packed grandstand on the main straight, and he said the intensity of performing in front of his home crowd and in such fine performance margins made the result one of the hardest fought of his career.

“With the whole build up, with the whole intensity, with the whole spur-of-the-moment thing, knowing how close we were, for me it feels like one of the best laps that I’ve been able to produce,” he said. “I would say it felt like the most pressurised lap that I’ve ever had.

“Then afterwards I was just shaking through the emotion. The adrenaline rush was way above the limit that I had experienced before, which is kind of crazy for my 76th [pole], but the 76th is so special.

“I gave it everything I could. It was so close between these Ferraris. The Ferraris pulled something out when we got to Q3.

“I knew we were up against it, but to really put together the laps was the hardest I can remember it being. It’s such a technical circuit and such a tricky circuit, and to really position the car in the right place and get the maximum from the tyres took everything from me to get it.

“I was just praying I could do it for you guys [the fans], and I’m so grateful for the support, because without you guys I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Hamilton also lauded the performance of the current generation of high-downforce cars around the newly resurfaced Silverstone Circuit — his time of one minute 26.818 seconds was a new track record — and forecast a testing race on Sunday.

“As I was saying before, it’s such a technical circuit and it’s about car placement. You’ve got to have, obviously the package.

“The lap was just intense. This is the fastest track in the world. We’re flat out through turn one, we’re flat out through Copse — it’s insane to turn in there at 300 and whatever kilometres it is.

“The speed that we’re going through the corners, it’s up, and even on the long runs yesterday, the g-force we’re pulling — the car is faster than last year.

“I definitely think it’s going to be physically tougher and more intense being that we’re so close.

“it’s not going to be a case of either of us pulling a big gap; it’s going to be close all the way, so I personally think it’s going to be one of the toughest.”